What have I been reading? The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
No spoilers. I loved this book. Every bit of it. It is a story which looks at mental illness in a very compassionate , inventive, interesting way. You get to see it from the point of view of everyone. It isn’t just about the psychiatrist treating mental illness. It is not clinical. It looks at relationships and how they emerge and develop and how mental illness impacts the person concerned and the people with whom they are involved. It becomes a puzzle and mystery story which makes for compelling reading because of the fine character development and then the attention to detail. Observations and hypotheses are made so that you become interactive in looking at the world of mental illness. I became involved in the story because there was a naturalness and reality about it but I also enjoyed how the book explored art, artists and the impact of art on people’s lives. It was a good book to be reading in winter. One I could just get lost in.
Image: Focus Adolescent Information
My last post on Emotional Abuse got a lot of traffic and reaction. I rest my case. We still need to be working on this aspect of abuse because it is the hardest one to manage in my opinion because the damage can’t necessarily be seen. It can be covert , underhanded and hidden abuse. In no way does that mean I think we should be less aware of or less active in dealing with other forms of abuse. No way. Unfortunately history keeps repeating itself, we don’t learn and we just keep allowing abuse to continue. It has to stop. I’d like to think we are the generation and century of human beings who can change this. We have the brains, the insight, the tools and connectivity. Since my last post emotional abuse has been better identified. That’s a big step in the right direction. People need to know what it is. They need to know it happens and they need to know what it looks and feels like.
Image: Education Experts
The next step will be just as big but much harder. We need to work out ways of shutting it down and stopping it. We also need to understand why people do this to others. Joining together and bringing all our ideas to the table will help untangle a lot of this. All abuse needs to be out in the open no matter how hard that is to confront and deal with. It’s the first step. Allowing it to go on behind closed doors is no longer good enough. We need the research, the experts, the documentation. It doesn’t matter whether it’s cyber bullying, family emotional abuse, abuse within a personal relationship, at work , from an organisation looking at it clearly and then approaching it methodically is our only hope. Focus Adolescent Services identifies it very clearly and has some excellent links out to other related information.
It is never too late. There are lots of strength training programmes now and many are based on decent research to show the benefits of strength training for older people. Not all of them are gym centred. Some are chair exercise classes and others are strength training around simple props like the stretchy bands. It makes a difference. It means older people are taking control of their health.It means they are stronger and more mobile. They are more comfortable walking around and doing their daily tasks and some are even participating in marathons and high level sporting activities. The research being done has provided solid information as to the benefits but it has also looked at the best ways to help older people engage in strength training. COTA is one of the organisations which offers strength training classes for older people. Older people need to keep their muscle tone and bone density. They need to keep their flexibility and balance. All these things are achievable with help and proper guidance and it is making life for older people more independent and positive.
I first heard the word “stuffocation” at the Living Smart course I attended last year. It’s a brilliant word and says so much. We are forced too much into consumerism. There is a frenzy about it and we are stuffocating in it because we now have rubbish disposal problems which have become nightmares. Our stuffocation has affected oceans , in particular, we have created great piles of e-waste which are hideous, our plastics are blocking waterways and decorating our landscape inappropriately and much of this plastic cannot be broken down easily or at all. There is no easy fix for this. Stuffocation is then a good word to remind ourselves what we are doing to ourselves. It is also a reminder we need to keep thinking and address the issue in a logical fashion so we can change our lives and world around and get the balance back. James Wallman has done much to get us thinking about the implications of all this stuff and then what we can do about it. For some reason I am not allowed to find the interview via WordPress on YouTube which features James Wallman and Lily Coleman. Treehugger explains the stance and rationale of James Wallman well and you can see that he advocates swapping things for experiences in order to create a better life with less waste. My own personal preference is for upcycling and repairing. Europe has gone big on repair cafes and I am hoping the trend will take off here. I love repairing things or repurposing them so they function in a different way and upcycling for many has become a very creative outlet for their skills and knowledge.
Most people are kind. There are a few who are not but the vast majority of the human race is considerate and kind. You get busy , though or stressed or preoccupied and kindness just doesn’t flow as easily as when you are relaxed. Shari’s Berries blog has a random act of kindness generator which can be used in so many ways. You can click it and get a random . You can focus on just family or just work colleagues. You can also download the whole list of acts of kindness and you could customise it to suit your mood and how you want be. You could create challenges. They really make you feel good. I did one last year and some of it was actually hard but I learned so much and it was just a positive contribution to my life even though I was the one doing the acts of kindness. It works. It creates a well world and a well you.
The Little Veggie Patch Co are good at getting people growing! Their approach is based on doable ideas , a straight forward approach and then upcycling where they can. They have approached gardening in a very visual way. Their book, the 1-Minute Gardening is a photo book with text which gives you tips and ideas. I was lucky enough to get a copy of it as a present for the Christmas before last. The main point to this video is you can grow vegetables anywhere. You do not need a huge amount of space. In one of my homes I was growing veggies in the wall box on the front patio while I was setting up a big veggie patch in the back garden. In my current home I am rejuvenating my veggie patch and growing some veggies and herbs in pots . Parsley grows around my back garden. It’s green, attractive and can make a nice pot plant! I like to have fresh herbs and I like to have fresh vegetables. I have mixed success with the vegetables but I never give up. I grow silverbeet and potatoes because they always work and fresh potatoes are lovely. Grow what you can because even if you don’t immediately become successful it is a very relaxing activity and gets you outside. There is a lot of evidence now that gardening has a good impact on your health and wellbeing.
Mildred Walker was a very well credentialed writer who was also a creative writing teacher who dies at the age of 93 in Oregon. Her novel is about Montana where she had lived for a long time. There is no sex, no drugs , no violence and no drama. It’s a slice of life and about Montana. It held me captive for the whole time I was reading it because it was so sane and normal. It was about a young girl growing into a young woman who was discovering what love meant and who was living her life in Montana. You come to understand the rhythm of life in Montana in 1941 and you get to be a part of that life as you read the book. You can see and feel the change of seasons. You come to love the farm and the slow lifestyle. People are living rather than being entertained, stimulated or diverted. They are battling the elements and relishing the small things in life. It is such a contrast to how we are living now. The descriptions are vivid and the experiences are very real. It is not ramped up, artificial or confected. It’s life and the descriptions allow a full appreciation of the experiences in a place like Montana just before WWII. I loved being an invited guest there.
Emotional abuse is very difficult to identify and even more difficult to prove. It’s sly, underhanded, artful and calculated. It’s important to know it is happening to you and it is important to notice it might be happening to someone else. Emotional abusers often have their reasons. It that awful cycle of abuse where you have been abused and you become the abuser. Emotional abuse can occur in the home , at work, from society at large …people. Unless we are clear about what it is and how to manage it then victims will continue to suffer. It can have dire consequences. A person can be so robbed of themselves, their hopes and dreams until they are in despair and dysfunctional. The worst thing is they have nothing to show anyone. Just what they think and how they feel. It has to be stopped like any other form of abuse and knowledge is power. The image straightens it out in people’s head. It helps clarify what is going on. There are some excellent sites which identify emotional abuse behaviour and symptoms. It is something we can deal with if we get the awareness out there as we have done with so many other things. Healthy Place looks at the short and long term effects of emotional abuse.
Pinterest also has some good help.
This is simple, straight forward, doable and cheerful. Great way to approach life. Some of these are more me than others but, in short, I can achieve all of this and can see it would make a positive difference!
This is a well constructed, well thought out, powerful video. It almost had me in tears. Not because it was soppy. Not because it was tugging on heartstrings but because you could see and feel the impact of human kindness. People are homeless for all sorts of reasons. In my lifetime what were a couple of so called vagrants about the place now and again has become a regular encounter with people who are homeless. There are children going to school from cars. There are people sleeping in doorways and anywhere else just to get shelter. Not just here. Not just there . It is a global problem and some are doing it worse than others. There is no easy answer but the video points out quite clearly the value of a hug, a smile, a bit of a break. Someone who will reach out to the homeless and treat them as a human beings who need recognition and nurturing. We cannot solve everyone’s problems. Some are there as a philosphical choice. Some are there because of lifestyle choices. Some are there because they are mentally ill and there was a decision to let them fend for themselves. All sorts of reasons. You can see most of them have lost teeth and that is the same everywhere. You can see most of them are thin. Worldwide they have the same look. We have made a difference by looking at ways and means of ensuring they have food and drink, warm clothes and blankets and sometimes a safe place to sleep. On one French news programme I watched a couple of years ago they had a place where they took people in for the night to get them out of excessive heat or cold. They could not take everyone but it was a start. One man just was so angry. The person in charge was very good at trying to de-escalate his anger and to get him to be calm. He succeeded but then the man became very aggressive again. In the end he was given a blanket and asked to leave so the others could rest and have some respite. It is a difficult thing to live and a difficult thing to be a helper. The video shows us not to give up on ourselves or them. Just to do simple human things which will make a difference. To be kind. Just be kind. In the two years since this video has been made the world has been kinder. We just need to keep reminding ourselves.